Reflections on Big/Small

January 2016

Rachel Dean and Daliah Toure on their aspirations for their forthcoming residency at Yorkshire Dance

Shifts in understanding have taken place over the past 12 months , since we began taking our children into the studio regularly. Our practice-based research enquires into areas other than movement research, which became as central as understanding what we wanted to do as this newly formed collective. Before we could even begin looking at content, we had to solve issues regarding how we were going to work; accepting the different pace set by our babies. Dance and play became embedded in sleep, eat, cuddle, nappy change and the many other liminal states of being.  We have only just begun to understand this process we are are enquiring into as parents and as practitioners and are eager to take it further.

Specific areas of research include:

– Revisiting scores, allocating ourselves and children particular roles

– Framing the movement of the children as performance

– Enriching our improvisations with the immediacy/unpredictability of working with very young children

– Changing our pacing and sense of time to suit the children. Both within improvisations and the way we structure studio sessions

– Investigating the difference presence of very different bodies and energies in the space

In addition, we would like to work towards writing a paper about our experiences of working with our children in the studio as independent dance artists. We believe it is a incredibly valuable and important research area which needs highlighting and would benefit from attention and support from the dance world.

9th September 2015

Spontaneous Performance

There have been some pianos around Leeds in public spaces recently so yesterday Iris and I came together with improvising pianist Laura Cole to create a spontaneous performance in the plaza of a shopping centre.

Normally width of focus is a variable when I improvise. Something that I can choose to vary, or at least notice whether my focus is close and specific, or wide and more encompassing. 2015-08-15 13.59.32Improvising whilst having the constant requirement of keeping an explorative toddler safe in a busy, open environment, this is not a variable I can play with. A large proportion of my attention always needed to be on Iris, where she was, where she was headed. My opportunities to dance alone were limited to the brief moments between her dashes for the ramp leading to outside and
testing her new climbing skills to the limit with a precarious balance on a chair over a marble floor.

Improvisers often choose to use scores to create roles or limit options. Through pushing up against problems, new solutions often emerge. When I improvise with my daughter I am provided with a clear, constant and unbreakablescore, to keep her safe and content. Everything else must come second to this. But this restriction can be positive, feeding the improvisation. At one point a friend who was watching offered to take some of this responsibility. Tempting as this might have been I realised that keeping Iris safe and within what I considered to be the performance area was the score that I was building the performance around. The performance arose in the tension between my desire to dance to the music that Laura was creating, to move in the open space, to dance with and in contact with Iris, to respond to and perform for the people watching and the need for me to fulfil my role of parent. This is one reason that I chose to dance and perform with my daughter.

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